in the pink

gift: new knitter's bag (from IKEA) with thrifted yarn, needles, and book

While I've never wanted to be a mother, I've always thought I'd make a pretty good aunt. The problem is none of my siblings have kids, and we're all getting up there in childbearing years, so it may never officially happen. So that means I get to borrow my friends' kids or nieces and nephews. And of course the great thing about borrowing is that I can give the kids back to their parents when I'm done playing—ah, peace.

So because Jeff's niece has shown interest in knitting for a couple years now and in fact brings it up every time I see her, which isn't that often, I finally put together a little knitting bag for her. And because virtually all second-grade American girls love pink, everything's pink: the vintage needles ($2), Funky Knitting book ($4), and the yarn (less than $1) all from Goodwill, and the highlighter-pink nylon shopping bag from IKEA ($1). (Coincidentally, the bag is almost the exact shade of shocking pink as the neighbor's rhododendrons, already faded by this year's unusual May heat.)

neighboring rhododendrons

Other than a day when I subbed at work in the after-school program for a knitting class, this was the first time I'd ever taught anyone else how to knit. It went smoothly until the end. We're talking about a perky, bright little girl here who blooms under the least bit of positive adult attention. Unfortunately, her parents wouldn't let her take the knitting home because they were afraid the younger brother would get hold of the metal needles and fall and stab himself, or else the kids would sword-fight with the needles and jab each other in the eye, so the knitting kit was left at Grandma's for Grandma to police. (Don't ask why the parents couldn't do a little more parenting. Nobody knows.)

When I last saw her, tears were drying on her face only because Grandma had reminded her she'd be over after school all week. And I felt strangely guilty for the big scene. What was I thinking giving an eight-year-old child metal knitting needles (aka weapons) that all children who knit used to use in olden days without poking out everyone's eyes?

old-fashioned lilacs, April 2013

At work, one of my second-grade clients the same age as Jeff's niece had a birthday last week, so I made her a pink paper crown with triangles cut out along a long slip of pink construction paper and pink hearts and silver stars drawn or stuck on, and her first name written illegibly (at least to the kids, who no longer learn this antiquated skill) in cursive along the center. All too soon, these girls will learn there's no such thing as a princess and instead will find themselves—Poof!—with jobs, laundry, and car payments like everyone else. But at least they can dream. This particular social butterfly, the spoiled-but-sweet youngest daughter in a hardworking Mexican-immigrant family with five kids, is destined to be a party planner, so I made extra effort, serving raspberry lemonade and those pink-frosted animal cookies with rainbow sprinkles on top. It's all part of enjoying the charm of children while not having any of the responsibility, heartache, or boredom, which to me seems the best deal.

rock rose (Cistaceae), Portland, OR, May 2013

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